The faces of many Catholics at Mass are not happy faces, says the columnist writing on spirituality for the Catholic Times. An example of this sad situation that readily came to mind was a person he knew; she was living a life without hope because of the pressure of sin. The only word uppermost on her mind was repentance.
Of course, this is different for all, he
reminds us. Some see themselves with 10 percent negativity (sin) in
their lives, and others see 80 percent. The experience of sin will be
different for everyone according to the lifestyle of each one. Those who
are dealing with 10 percent failure should look upon the 90 percent and
give thanks; those who have 80 percent to deal with should quickly
break the surrounding darkness to get to the light.
programs for those in prison may be best advised not to focus too
directly on having sorrow for what was done, he says. Repentance for
what we have sinfully done is healthy, but we know that those who want
to change do not find it easy to do so. Better it is, he says, to accept our weaknesses and rely on our spiritual faculties to come to our aid. It takes time for some changes to
occur, especially when we have been overcome by our faults.
sorry for our sins is important but change is also important. Let us
consider, he suggests, a husband who drinks and often shouts at his
wife. He goes to confession and pledges he will not be violent in his
behavior again. The chances are 9 out of 10 that within a week or a
month he will be back at his old ways, regardless of the sorrow he felt
at the time of his confession.
One step beyond sorrow, the
columnist says, is to have an inner change, a spiritual renewal.
Something different has to take place within the person. It is good to
remember that the word we translate into the different languages to mean
repentance is the Greek word 'metanoia', which means a 'changed mind'.
This change will not come easily; we need God's help to make this
happen, to give us a new way of looking at life, a new way of living our
lives. Without this new way we will continue to return to the past. We
have to forget the past (it's no longer here), We have to make the past come into the present and be directed towards the future. This is the work of the spirit.
God, the columnist reminds us, does not bind us
to the the sins of the past. He released Israel from Egypt
and again from Babylon captivity. We need not be chained to the past. We
acknowledge what was done but then must move on. If we spend too much time in the
past we will become exhausted; we have to move to another level and give
ourselves over to a new spiritual energy to change. We have to
experience God, and that can only be done here, now. By experiencing God, says the columnist, we will resonate with
the strength that he gives us, without this we will have more vacillation.